let a thousand buildings burn

Do you want me to compare the pain I feel with the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Aubrey and Breonna Taylor to the pain I feel at the loss of physical things like buildings and businesses, my answer is, let a thousand buildings burn.

This is my honest-to-god emotional reaction, and I am not one that suffers the level of discrimination that my black brothers and sisters have. Not by a long shot. I have suffered horrific things in my lifetime, and I know the pain of being seen as inherently inferior; I know the pain of being at the bottom of the social barrel and completely silenced; I know the pain of watching my loved ones abused because of the color of their skin; I know that pain of complete and total impunity. Life has been generous enough to give me the opportunity to live the experiences that will show me exactly what deep-rooted discrimination looks and feels like. But the stories I have heard from slavery, through post-Civil War and pre-Civil Rights and the outrageous abuses that continue unto today is far, far beyond what I can say I’ve known and felt.

Too many white folk are quick to judge the African-American community for their attitudes and behavior and tout the over-used line that they are in their situation because they don’t want to fight for a better life. I have heard many white people say that the African-Americans are lazy. Yes, that exact word. They have babies to milk the system for food stamps. They just want handouts. If you help them, they will never get to work. And this is a going belief system among the white, self-righteous right. Oh, they also say, “Slavery was ended a long time ago, you can’t blame us now for their conditions”. And this, “They are poor because they want to be”. And how about this “discrimination no longer exists”.

I, an extremely fiery person, have heard all of these stupid arguments and have had to keep my mouth shut. This is not the time and place to fight, Gabriela. Zip it. Stay calm an carry on. Breathe.

How do you learn to forgive people for having their genuine belief systems? Can I honestly tell myself these very oblivious people are ill-intended? No, selfish maybe, but who isn’t? Who isn’t selfish in this whole scheme of things? I’m going to tell you, it is extremely hard to pull yourself around to see the point of view of another person when you really want to scream.

But if we are going to have anything less than a civil war (IMO), we need to pull ourselves around and stop screaming. We need to listen.

Before you tell me that I’m inciting violence, I want you to ask yourself if someone living in a middle-class neighborhood and who has always been generally safe in life is going to want to burn buildings by reading my words. No? Ok, I’m not inciting violence. In fact, you, yes you, are inciting violence by your sheer acceptance at this extreme slaughter of human lives and dignity as an acceptable status quo. You are inciting violence by not raising your voice against it, by not ousting every person of authority who silently stands by while this goes on. You are the one inciting violence, my dear. You are the one.

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